More than a quarter-century ago, Lisa Murray took a leap of faith joining a small sports agency. That agency turned into Octagon, now one of the most powerful sports agencies in the world. Murray delivered the keynote presentation at the Sports Industry Networking And Career (SINC) Conference at George Washington University on Feb. 19. ThePostGame caught up with her after her speech.
ThePostGame: When did you get started at Octagon?
LISA MURRAY: I started in 1989, and then we got acquired by Advantage and then Advantage got acquired by Interpublic and then we became Octagon, so I've been there 26 or so years.
TPG: What was the state of sports marketing like at that time?
MURRAY: Ahhh. That was big shrimp in big tents and what we called execu-whim. If a senior manager liked a particular sport, sometimes that's the direction you went. Now, it's all about data and analytics and strategy and making the right decisions for return on your objectives.
TPG: You've seen a lot of adaptation over the years. How does Octagon keep adapting to the changing sports landscape?
MURRAY: We are ahead of it. We don't wait for it. We hire the right people to make the right decisions and work with our clients and it's worked out great. We are a leader and very fortunate. We have great clients both on the brands and athletes' side. We've expanded to entertainment, as well.
TPG: What are the specific brands you work with?
MURRAY: Personally, FIFA World Cup is a brand I've worked on since the 90s. But really, there hasn't been one I haven't touched somehow, some way, through the years. I'm very fortunate.
TPG: FIFA World Cup -- from an American perspective -- 1994 was the World Cup in the United States. Where did the FIFA World Cup stand when it came here and what did you want to make of it?
MURRAY: I have to say, the live event was fabulous for the United States, and I think it did spark the popularity of soccer back then. If you look at MLS, it's really grown, and how the women did in Vancouver was crazy good, so that also helped, so it's doing really well [now].
TPG: Do you think the U.S. will host another World Cup in the future?
MURRAY: I hope so.
TPG: What would that do for the FIFA brand in the U.S.?
MURRAY: It's all good. There's a passion about soccer/football that is out of control. It's growing in the United States and we have some great events within the United States. It doesn't always have to be with FIFA.
TPG: In your [SINC] discussion, you were talking about live events like the Super Bowl. "Live is live," you said. What is it about live events that even in the changing world, stays relevant?
MURRAY: It's competition. It's sports. It's how everyone loves their particular athlete. It's the excitement. It's the comradery of who's at the venue. There's nothing like it. That's adrenaline. That's the beauty of what we do. This is an industry that is just the best. When you're there and you feel everybody else's enthusiasm, it's great.
TPG: What is Octagon doing right now to change with the times, in terms of digital media and everything going on?
MURRAY: We enhanced our expertise. We are again, ahead of the curve. We have the right people making the right decisions, coming up with great ideas, so we always know that next right move and we are rolling.
TPG: What's your advice for someone going into sports business now?
MURRAY: It's kind of how I ended my speech. There are so many opportunities. People only think of a piece of the pie. As I said, I think there are 27,000 sports marketing jobs out there today, so you just have to work hard and make it happen.
TPG: Why is it important to come to a conference like SINC?
MURRAY: Because I love it so much and I'm so passionate about my industry and my career and if I can help others broaden their thought-process of what they can do for a living, then that's all good.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.